I had to return to work when babies were 5 months old, and I wanted to carry on breastfeeding. My eldest, (now 8), went onto solids at 14 weeks (WHO guidelines were different then), so I was only feeding about 4 times a day when he was 5 months old.
Things to consider when returning to work:
- Did you get an easy to use breast pump covered by insurance? Have you got a carrying case for it? Where will you refrigerate your expressed milk?
- Where will you be able to express? Is it conducive to easy let down? Will you need a photo of baby with you to help?
- What clothes do you have to wear for work? Can you easily express wearing them, or will you have to think carefully about where you express if you need to undress? Have you got a nursing bra that you can wear for work?
- How often will you need to express? Can this be managed around your breaks/timetable/meeting schedule?
- Speak with HR to talk through how all the above will work in your situation and get their support. They will be able to support your line manager make things work for you.
The items on this list are not barriers, they are things you need to consider carefully to plan ahead to make expressing at work successful.
In my own experience, I was fortunate that my work was very supportive and took their HR handbook seriously. I remember taking time out of a course I was on, and having to store breastmilk in a staffroom fridge – they had to find me an empty hotel room for me to express. The things we do!
Overall, I gave breastmilk to no.1 son until he lost interest at 9months (final 3 months just morning and night), and no.2 until 9months when I had to stop suddenly to look after my Mum. Expressing isn’t easy at work, and you can often feel under-pressure to stop. Just remember why you’re doing it – to continue to give your baby the best start in life.
Tracey-Jane Hughes, is the founder and owner of bras4mums. T-J set this up when she got bad advice when breastfeeding no.2 son and couldn’t work out how to have a bra fitting with a toddler and pram in tow!
T-J now offers bra fitting advice to pregnant, breastfeeding and post-breastfeeding women by phone, email, home fittings and via the website which sells the widest range of maternity & nursing bras in the UK.